Archive for the ‘Audit’ Category

Palm Beach County Guardian Audit Turns Up Big Questions!

November 4, 2012

At least three people in Palm Beach County are expected to be arrested, for stealing money from the elderly… the frail, and foster kids.

The Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller’s Office has spent months doing audits of the county’s guardianship program and found over $1 million in questionable expenses and possible theft.

Some of the cases they investigated came in as tips on the Clerk’s office Guardianship Fraud Hotline.

They say they found some cases of fraud, which were turned over to police or the sheriff’s office for further investigation.

“As long as I’m Clerk and as long as the courts are looking at this then we should use everything in our power to deter this kind of behavior,” said Sharon Bock, Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller.

Palm Beach County has about 2700 people who have court-appointed guardians who handle their financial affairs.

The clerk’s audits found over $1 million in questionable expenses and possible theft.

No one has been arrested so far. But according to the clerk’s office Boynton Beach Police and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office are involved, and arrests are expected soon..

Full Article and Source:
Audit Turns Up Big Questions
See Also:
Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Medicaid fraud audits poor investment: GAO

July 9, 2012

Lawmakers blasted a Medicaid anti-fraud program that has cost taxpayers more than five times as much as it recovered.

Since 2008, more than $102 million was spent on the Medicaid audit effort, but only $20 million in overpayments were recovered, federal investigators revealed during a Senate hearing.

“I think Congress has been complicit in this far too long,” said Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). The Government Accountability Office determined that nearly two-thirds of the audits of state spending were “unproductive.”

Full Article and Source:
Medicaid fraud audits poor investment: GAO

Shelby County TN Probate Court Audit Reveals Oversight Issues

November 17, 2011

Shelby County Probate Court is the subject of the county’s most recent internal audit.

The scathing report revealed the court is suffering from a pervasive lack of money oversight, including losing track of funds, unlocked cash drawers and unsealed confidential records.

The court is charged with the task of distributing assets to people who can’t manage their own estate – be they deceased, senior citizens or children. It was particularly daunting when internal auditors found a list of oversight problems at high risk for loss or misappropriation of court funds.

Paul Boyd became clerk last September and is now trying to clean up the mess.

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to do and I have no fear of anything,” said Boyd.

Auditors did not accuse Boyd or anyone in his office of any wrongdoing, but they have serious changes in store, including account reconciliation.

In one case the audit found a $128,000 difference between the balance in one investment account and the balance the court had on record. The audit says the court also lost track of money in some of their 635 accounts, and they did not keep up with interest earned on some of their $21 million in holdings.

Auditors also uncovered only four percent of the checks the court paid out had the clerk’s signature and the charge and cash receipts drawer had no lock.

The audit also found the court system had access weaknesses. Former administrators could still log in to the computer system and sealed cases and mental health records were left unattended at times.

Boyd said the documents are now locked away and past administrators are now locked out.

“We need the audit to come in to provide assurance to the public that nothing is stolen and everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Boyd.

Unlike the honest errors in Probate Court, clerks across the Mid-South have made news for dishonest behavior in recent months. Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk Brandon Gunn pleaded guilty to stealing court funds in excess of $1 million. It is still unclear how the money will be recouped.

Germantown Municipal Court deputy clerk Janet Donnell confessed to theft of city funds, but Germantown will not say how much she stole. Auditors in Germantown are going through the records to get a better handle of the losses there.

General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson is suing the judges who removed him, after he was indicted for allegedly coercing staff members to contribute to his re-election campaign.

Full Article and Source:
Probate Court Audit Reveals Money Oversight Issues

See news video

Read the Shelby County Probate audit

Audits Show Alabama Conservator Zondra Hutto Mismanaged Ward’s Cases

October 27, 2011

A former Tuscaloosa County conservator has been ordered to reimburse more than $100,000 of unwarranted and undocumented expenditures she made from the accounts of 17 people.

As the county’s conservator, Zondra Hutto was responsible for the finances of elderly people who were unable to manage their affairs. Hutto resigned from her position after she pleaded guilty to a federal charge of not reporting the crimes of an employee.

Hutto’s law clerk, Brian Lunceford, has been accused of using credit cards belonging to one of Hutto’s wards to buy clothing, a designer purse, gas and a trip to Mexico. Hutto pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony because she knew about the charges Lunceford allegedly racked up. She is scheduled to begin a three-month federal prison sentence in January.

Since Hutto resigned as conservator for about 30 people in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court, the wards’ newly- appointed guardians have scrutinized the final accounting she submitted in the cases. They have found that Hutto overcharged their accounts and kept sloppy records.

Circuit Judge Brad Almond has presided over court hearings in many of the cases and has ordered Hutto to reimburse $110,008 of unwarranted and undocumented expenditures to 17 wards. She will likely owe more once the remaining cases go before Almond in November.

Full Article and Source:
Audits Show Conservator Mismanaged Ward’s Cases

Audit Finds Colorado Probate Courts Fail to Protect Guardianship & Conservatorship Wards

October 3, 2011

Colorado’s probate courts have not followed laws enacted to protect vulnerable adults and children from abuse by guardians and conservators, state auditors reported.

They reported that in one case, a probate court failed to contact a guardian for 10 years about the ward he was appointed to protect. In another, the court learned that a protected person had died in 2003 only when auditors called to ask about the absence of financial reports.

In a random sample of 55 cases, state auditors also found a conservator who spent 423 percent of the amount estimated in the financial plan for the protected person and another who spent nearly $1,000 at retail stores, documenting the purchases only in a line on a bank statement.

And in a section detailing the courts’ occasional failure to obtain background checks before appointing guardians and conservators, the auditors noted that in one Colorado case, “a professional conservator stole more than $2 million from the ward’s estate.” Their report did not name the conservator. This audit, like other state audits, provided details about individual cases but no names.

“Overall, we found that the courts’ processes do not ensure that the rights, welfare and assets of wards are adequately protected,” the auditors reported.

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Bender, who represented the judicial branch as the report was presented to Colorado’s Legislative Audit Committee, told legislators he is “severely, substantially concerned” about the reported problems — and will make sure they are addressed.

“We understand the problem,” he said, “and we’re going to make it a priority.”
This is not the first time that state auditors have found Colorado’s probate courts failed to monitor guardians and conservators. They reached a similar conclusion in a 2006 audit.

Last year, The Denver Post reported in a series of stories that Denver’s probate-court files included protected wards who had been dead for years and guardians who had not been contacted for five years or more.

Full Article and Source:
Colorado Probate Courts Fail to Protect Those at Risk, Audit Finds

New "Guardianship Fraud Hotline" in Palm Beach Co, FL.

September 19, 2011

More than 2,500 Palm Beach County children, elderly and disabled residents who depend on a court-appointed guardian to manage their finances may now have additional protection against fraud or misuse of their money.

The county’s Clerk of Courts Monday launched the Guardianship Fraud Hotline, where anyone who suspects a guardian is stealing money, misusing assets or overcharging a ward can report it to county officials.

In addition to the hotline, the Clerk of Courts has beefed up its guardianship audits since February, when clerk Sharon Bock hired an auditor to solely look at potential fraud and misuse by guardians. Six additional auditors have also been trained to closely examine guardianship complaints .

“As the economy became more and more of a problem, it became clear that the people who are really very vulnerable were potentially going to fall victim to exploitation,” Bock said. The hotline and additional auditors cost the court about $100,000, she said.

While U.S. Census figures point to a future increase of the senior citizen population in Palm Beach County, Bock said it was the ideal time to put in place a system that would guarantee some of the county’s most needy residents would be protected.

The hotline, Bock added, will serve “a deterrent effect to the guardians who are under the court watch, so they know that in the event that something goes wrong or in the event that anyone suspects something is going wrong, they will be audited and their information will be examined.”

Among the complaints typically handled by auditors include money missing from a person’s account and overcharging for legal or clerical fees, said Anthony Palmieri, senior auditor for the clerk’s division of the Inspector General’s office.

“We are looking with a fine-toothed comb what the guardian is actually doing with the ward’s assets,” Bock said. “Up until this started there was nothing to turn to.”

Guardians Face Audits, Hotline Complaints Under New Palm Beach County Clerk Service

Contact the Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Audit Alleges Mismanaement at CA Health Dept.

June 24, 2010

The California Department of Public Health didn’t fine hospitals and nursing homes as much as they could have for health code violations and overstated an account of collected fines by nearly $10 million, an audit has found.

The California State Auditor’s report released Thursday spans nearly a seven-year period and reflects a broad pattern of inattention to good accounting practices at the state department.

“We’ve got some fundamental issues with the department, so they need to strengthen their budget staff and accounting staff,” said state auditor Elaine Howle.

Noting reports released within the last week that discovered lax reporting and flawed accounting with CDPH’s Every Woman Counts program, Howle added, “We’re starting to see the same problems across the department’s programs.”

Full Article and Source:
Audit Alleges Mismanagement at Calif. Health Department

Audit Says Funding Misused

August 31, 2009

Money earmarked for legal services for children used to pay court master, Pa. draft report says.

The previous Luzerne County court administration used state funding that was earmarked for one purpose to funnel more pay to an employee, despite two warnings that the practice wasn’t allowed, according to a draft audit obtained by The Times Leader.

The funding was supposed to cover attorney representation for children facing removal from their homes due to abuse and neglect – officially called “guardian ad litem” services.

Instead, the administration used the state’s guardian funding to pay Orphan’s Court worker Michael Shucosky, also an attorney, more than $200,000 for additional work as a court master. A master presides over some court actions in place of a judge.

Full Article and Source:
Audit Says Funding Misused

See also:
Plea Agreement Rejected

Judges Plead Guilty

County Cuts Ties With Public Guardian

August 15, 2009
The board of commissioners is looking to fill the recently-vacated Arenac County Public Guardian position after officially reporting it will not return Sherilyn Jones, the suspended public guardian, to the position.

Jones’ office is under investigation for criminal activity by the Michigan State Police and in the process of being audited by the Michigan Treasury Department. Board Chairman Raymond Daniels says neither the investigation nor audit is complete yet, but that the board felt compelled to act.

Daniels : “We found enough evidence that we feel comfortable saying at this time that she won’t be returning to work. The [Teamsters] union has been notified that we will not be bringing her back. … We’re at the point of time that we have to move forward.”

Full Article and Source:
County cuts ties with Public Guardian, begins search for new one

More information:
Arenac County leaders replacing public guardian, probe continues

State performing audit on public guardian office

Sherilyn Jones is registered with Center for Guardianship Certification , an allied foundation of the National Guardianship Association (NGA)

Cashing In On Kids

August 9, 2009
A Watchdog Report
By Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel

The newspaper spent four months investigating the $340 million taxpayer-financed child-care system known as Wisconsin Shares and uncovered a trail of phony companies, fake reports and shoddy oversight.

The program was designed to give low-wage working parents assistance with child care, encouraging them to get and keep jobs, rather than stay on welfare. While the need in many of the 34,000 cases is genuine, the system allows child-care providers and parents to easily con the system, capitalizing on children for public cash.

The Journal Sentinel focused on the five Wisconsin counties with the highest number of subsidized child-care recipients – Milwaukee, Dane, Racine, Kenosha and Brown counties.

Among the findings:

• Counties accept almost anything as proof of employment for parents seeking child-care assistance. Notes from employers, phone conversations, checks stubs – all of which are easily fabricated – serve as sufficient proof. As a result payments are sometimes approved based on bogus jobs.

• Caseworkers sign off on child-care arrangements that defy the imagination. In one instance, child-care funding was approved for 85 hours a week even when children were in school all day. If the statements were to be believed, the children would almost never be home. In another case, a woman was granted child-care assistance to work 236 of 238 days, including the day she gave birth to her seventh child.

• Regulators seldom revoke licenses for fraud and are slow to act even when they have strong evidence. In at least two cases, government officials suspected that providers were falsifying documents for three years before finally moving to shut down the child-care operations. Prosecutors have filed only one child-care fraud case in the past five years.
Child-care scams rake in thousands

The Journal Sentinel spent four months investigating the $340 million taxpayer-supported program and uncovered an array of costly problems – including fraud. But the investigation also revealed a system rife with lax regulations that have paved the way for abuse by parents and providers.


• Sisters or other relatives can stay home, swap kids and receive taxpayer dollars. The four Racine sisters took in as much as $540,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three years, mostly to watch each other’s kids.

• Rules allow parents to be employed by child-care providers and enroll their children at the same place. At some centers, children of employees make up the majority of kids in day care. In one Milwaukee location, an employer and parents are accused of teaming up to bilk the system out of more than $360,000.

• Child-care subsidy recipients have been allowed to work for almost any type of business. Payments were made when moms claimed to work ironing a man’s shirts, drying fruit and selling artwork they made during art class.

• The government pays for child care while parents sleep. Counties have no way to monitor whether parents are actually sleeping while their kids are in day care.
Child care loopholes lead to easy money

In addition to posing a potential safety risk to the state’s neediest children, some criminals appear to be conning the child-care system, doctoring attendance records, the Journal Sentinel found. It’s difficult to gauge the full scope of child abusers in the system because even when police and child-welfare workers find substantiated cases, not all abusers are criminally charged. And when they have been charged, many of the details are considered private information. To tell this story, the Journal Sentinel reviewed thousands of pages of public documents and obtained from sources dozens of additional documents that state and county regulators refused to release.
Child-care providers with criminal past getting licenses, state funds

State legislators called for a series of new reforms to the state’s troubled child-care program, including a measure that would ban certain criminals from getting into the child-care business and collecting public funds. The action came in response to a Journal Sentinel story that detailed how the state allows criminals to become child-care providers and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the taxpayer-supported Wisconsin Shares program.
Legislators press for ban on criminal child-care providers

State regulators misspent nearly $20 million in taxpayer-supported child-care funds in 2008, according to estimates in a state audit released Friday.

The Legislative Audit Bureau’s examination of the Wisconsin Shares child-care program found fraud and other problems in dozens of cases.
State audit finds nearly $20 million in fraud

A Milwaukee woman known as the “day care pimp” was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for bilking the state’s taxpayer-funded child-care program out of at least $369,000.
Woman gets 5 years for child-care fraud

Nicole Brown, a felon with ties to Milwaukee crime boss Michael Lock, has been operating Jasmine’s Learning House and collecting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for more than a year after her conviction.
Day care provider linked to crime boss loses license

A Wisconsin woman accused of scamming the state’s taxpayer-funded child care program out of more than $100,000 now faces felony theft charges, in one of the largest cases of its kind in state history.
State caregiver accused in $100,000 scam

Several years before she opened her Milwaukee day care center, Shalanda Lock went by the name “Pleasure.” Police and prosecutors say she danced in strip clubs and sold sex across the Midwest. And she isn’t the only day care provider with ties to convicted crime boss Michael Lock.
Crime family reaps child-care cash

A Kenosha County child-care provider whose fraudulent activity was detailed in a Journal Sentinel series this year is back in business – billing the state for more than $1,400 in recent weeks
Suspect child-care business gets more state cash

State regulators are launching a series of public hearings around the state seeking input from child care providers, parents, government workers and other stakeholders to help curb fraud in the state’s day care system.
State regulators to hold public hearings on child care reform

Those who seek city zoning approval to operate child-care centers in Milwaukee would face a higher level of scrutiny under a resolution recommended Friday.
City focuses on child care

The mother of the infant girl who died Sunday appears to have provided Milwaukee County with bogus employment information to qualify six of her children for taxpayer-funded child care. Two of the kids don’t even live in Wisconsin. The cost to taxpayers: more than $1,300 per week.
Mother of dead baby is subject of child-care probe

Gov. Jim Doyle has repeatedly said he plans to link the quality of a day care to the amount the center receives in taxpayer funded child-care subsidies. But a closer look at his proposed budget by the Journal Sentinel shows it won’t happen in the next two years, if ever.
Day care incentive absent from Doyle’s budget

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted unanimously Thursday to launch a full-scope audit of Wisconsin Shares, a major move designed to combat fraud within the $340 million taxpayer-funded child-care system.
Audit of child care subsidy program wins backing

Gov. Jim Doyle plans today to unveil sweeping changes to the state’s taxpayer-funded child-care system, including a new rating system that requires providers to meet specific standards to qualify for payments.
Doyle plans child-care reform

The state has overpaid day care providers at least $13.7 million in recent years – including millions of dollars spent on bogus child care that was never delivered, according to the state’s own records.
Millions down the drain

Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday unveiled the first part of his plan to bolster oversight of the state’s taxpayer-funded child-care system – pushing a requirement that parents use swipe cards to electronically log their children in and out of day care centers.
Doyle unveils day care oversight

Racine County child-care regulators turned over two cases to the district attorney’s office on Tuesday for possible criminal fraud charges inside the Wisconsin Shares program.
Charges possible in Racine County child-care cases

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department will take over child-care fraud investigations in the county after reports of fraud and abuse within the taxpayer-funded Wisconsin Shares system.
Racine sheriff to check for fraud

The two co-chairs of the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee agreed Thursday to move forward with requests to audit the Wisconsin Shares child-care subsidy program.
Lawmakers move ahead with requests to audit child-care program

Thirty-two Democratic legislators signed a letter Tuesday calling for a comprehensive audit of the state’s taxpayer-funded child-care program and asking that it examine every element from initial intake to the final payment.
Lawmakers call for audit of state’s child-care program

Cashing in on Kids